Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
[dupe] Germany Restricts Facebook’s Data Gathering (nytimes.com)
145 points by jbegley 12 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 47 comments






I must be missing something because Google collects more information from more sources for more advertising. I'm more worried about Google.

* fixed a spelling error from the mobile post.


As I recall, Facebook was allowed to buy Whatsapp in France after they promised not to share user data between the two services. I think Germany had similar objections, but now Facebook is ignoring that agreement which always annoys governments.

Facebook even got a $122 million EU fine for same issue https://www.engadget.com/2017/05/18/facebook-european-commis.... “After months of deliberation, the European Commission has ruled that Facebook intentionally mislead officials over its ability to utilize data following its acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014.”


They really have to start going after the people themselves. Right now it’s way too easy to do something and then hide behind the company. Things will never change if the company pays the fines.

This is an anti-trust case. Google has no monopoly in most of their endeavors, for example there are thousands of email providers and ad networks.

On the other hand, they caught themselfes a fine last year over the inability to "un-Google" Android phones: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/18/technology/google-eu-andr...


There has been no corresponding action in the US regarding the vendors' ability to sell phones without google play services. Which is a shame because I doubt if EU alone is a big enough market for vendors to create new products without google play services. At least there haven't been any such announcements about new products since the ruling. Is EFF or any other body putting pressure in the US ?

Is it illegal to sell phones with google play services? Which law? Which case is this?

Without. TLDR: If you as a vendor sell a single phone with google play services, you cannot sell any other AOSP based phone without google play services. EU ruled against this. I don't know how the US allows this.

Competition laws and anti-monopoly laws hit long before monopolies are formed.

Real monopolies are relatively rare. Most anti-monopoly regulations worry about 'monopoly power' or 'dominant power' where companies can start to ignore competition or price signals.

For the purpose of controlling mergers, the combined market share of 25% or more of a specific market is usually refereed to anti-trust regulators who can intervene or set conditions.


We'll get to them too. Just cause you're worried about Google doesn't mean we shouldn't also go after Facebook.

yes exactly, and Im so grateful germany taking a firm lead on this

Well, yes, I would say this applies to to Google, too:

> (i) Facebook-owned services like WhatsApp and Instagram can continue to collect data. However, assigning the data to Facebook user accounts will only be possible subject to the users’ voluntary consent. Where consent is not given, the data must remain with the respective service and cannot be processed in combination with Facebook data.

https://www.bundeskartellamt.de/SharedDocs/Meldung/EN/Presse...

Google and Microsoft both combined user data under one account to "improve users' experience", and gave up the practice of deanonymizing the collected data in the process, because "who's going to stop us, right?!":

https://www.propublica.org/article/google-has-quietly-droppe...


the ordering germany makes when going after them is irrelevant

Contrary to the belief of whataboutists everywhere, it is actually possible to be concerned about more than one thing at a time.

I don't understand accusations of whataboutism. They oftentimes seem hypocritical: accusing someone of whataboutism is as relevant (and therefore, by its own logic, as rhetorically valid) as the thing it seeks to criticize.

Why is exposing double standards and hypocrisies via a relevant example not a valid form of argumentation?


Depends what it's trying to argue: is mentioning other instances of a problem a counter-argument meant to suggest the original isn't such a big problem that needs resolving, or is it an extension of it that pushes for those other problems also being addressed? The problem is the former.

It's worse than invalid, it's a cliché.

Whataboutism is a rhetorical tactic employing logical fallacy. It seeks to shut down discussion by creating an equivalence between two situations and implying that one is justified by not having gone after the other. It imposes a recursive loop of inaction where you can't change anything unless you change everything at the same time.

You want to fix Facebook; well, what about Google? You want to fix Google; what about Facebook?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whataboutism


One can also legitimately bring up other examples to ask why they aren't being treated similarly without it being whataboutism in every case.

It sometimes can be difficult to distinguish when someone is using another example to excuse the primary subject with whataboutism or to make a sincere inquiry into why such a disparity exists.

Of course, sometimes it's easy to tell what people are doing.


also google didn't have any big leaks, while facebook is running from one scandal into the next. Obviously facebook cannot be trusted with user data.

This will have a big impact on how much data they will have for advertisers, I'm glad i sold off all my stock in them since I can see other governments wanting to enact similar laws.

> The competition regulator ruled that Facebook would now have to obtain users’ permission before merging data from other sites.

So, more useless warnings like the cookie permission pop ups littered all over the internet.

Who actually thinks this is a good thing? Why?


Would this actually create a popup littered all over the internet?

Shouldn't this be a thing where, e.g., FB sends German users a message saying something like "we'd like to integrate your data -- click here to opt in"?


You think that’s a good thing? And that the government is needed so Facebook can give users a little confirmation dialog?

[flagged]


Eisenhower almost certainly had some input, directly or indirectly, into the postwar German constitution with its strong privacy law: https://www.btg-bestellservice.de/pdf/80201000.pdf

"The privacy of correspondence, posts and telecommuni-cations shall be inviolable"


What exactly does "almost certainly" mean?

And I thought this was about antitrust? Or is it a "whatever it takes" sort of policy enforcement?

Not to mention that this was before the Germans got ungrateful and tampered with US companies, if any of that was done on Ike's watch you know governments would get toppled and military action was on the table, not to mention sanctions and other economic retaliation.


See, this is why people don't like US hegemony. Germany is not a banana republic to be run for the benefit of the fruit company, it has voters.

It's an important enough matter that economic, political, and clandestine measures should be on the table.

If by "hamper" you mean "(generally ineffectually) attempt to curb specific unlawful unethical behaviours by said companies" then, yes, I agree.

What's "unethical" here is shifting and narrowing legal definitions to target certain companies originating from certain countries.

Why does everything have to come back to borders and national identity? Is it really that hard to believe that bad things might get punished simply because they're bad?

Because they seem very insincere about essentially given other scandals and policies. If you want to be considered principled you need to do so when it isn't just convenient. Otherwise it will be rightfully called out as a pretext.

Given their own spying, Airbus illegal subsidy scandal combined with fierce protectionism of the most stupidly provincial things like what cheese and wine can be called and openly "How can we tear US tech down?" statements it is no wonder they are getting taken seriously as J. Jamison on Spiderman.


> Given their own spying

Are you able to expand on that please?

> Airbus illegal subsidy scandal

I don't follow any news regarding Airbus so I can't comment on that case specifically but the EU does clamp down on European companies as well.

If I had to guess why you think it only happens to American businesses then it might be just that American newspapers will focus on US businesses so you simply haven't read about EU interventions against EU businesses? To be honest, some of fines placed on companies on the mainland continent don't even make it to the UK's press - so it really wouldn't surprise me if it was never reported in the US.

> fierce protectionism of the most stupidly provincial things like what cheese and wine can be called

I don't agree with that much either myself but you have to bare in mind that the cheese and wine industry predate the EU by literally centuries so this isn't some new policy that the EU invented - they just chose not to disrupt it. However this probably feels alien to any American techies because the culture there is all about disrupting the status que; I'm not suggesting that's a bad thing either. But equally I can't blame the EU for protecting their provincial industries when that's all those regions have done for centuries (and it's not like the US doesn't promote it's own local industries where it can as well).

> openly "How can we tear US tech down?" statements

Yeah, from time to time individuals will make stupid statements but the EU is a much larger organisation than that and encompasses a variety of different cultures. I mean you wouldn't like it much if Europeans judged every CEO in Silicon Valley by the tweets made from Elon Musk yet people talk about the EU is if it was a singular individual.


For spying France has the emergency powers and Germany had scandals of spying on other states. And then the kinda-sorta-probably-maybe Brexiting of the UK which has been allowed for a while. The point is they aren't spotless in it.

The airbus illegal subsidization and agriculture were to point to incidents of protectionist tendencies. Notably I avoided their actual sincerity - such a thing would in fact vary by the individuals just like there may be some people legitimately annoyed by long commute times complaining about "forced busing" in with the dog-whistling racists. I am pointing out how they can appear untrustworthy.

It doesn't matter if either party is pure as driven snow or mustache twirlingly corrupt - given their history there are reasons not to trust their intentions. The suspicions may be wrong in this case but there /is/ a reason to be suspicious.

It also doesn't change that intention and results may differ. Public school funding was fueled by paranoid xenophobic fear that immigrant Catholics would take over as covert servants of the Pope but it was a great influence. Similarly the initial "Five Pests Elimination" program was well intentioned but killing sparrows lead to major locust problems such that paying the "bird tax" in letting the locust eaters also eat some seeds was preferable to swarms devouring farm fields wholesale. (Refusing to change after it was revealed to cause problems made it the vast disaster but that is another topic.)

The best way to prove sincerity is an expensive signal in itself - acting against your own immediate interests repeatably in the favor of integrity consistently when it comes up. That may benefit you long term.

For example: a serial con artist may be sincerely reformed and telling the truth about his new plan to fight acquifer depletion but people would rightly be skeptical. If he gave away the scheme with absolutely no monetization potential or benefits to special interests it would show it isn't a scam. It still might not work but not a scam.


> For spying France has the emergency powers and Germany had scandals of spying on other states. And then the kinda-sorta-probably-maybe Brexiting of the UK which has been allowed for a while. The point is they aren't spotless in it.

Of course they aren't perfect. No government body is. Every major national government has spies and such like (including the US) and you can't really use that as an argument against protecting consumer rights nor the EU specifically. At least not if you want to make a credible counterargument rather than falling into the whataboutism cliche: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whataboutism

> The airbus illegal subsidization and agriculture were to point to incidents of protectionist tendencies. Notably I avoided their actual sincerity - such a thing would in fact vary by the individuals just like there may be some people legitimately annoyed by long commute times complaining about "forced busing" in with the dog-whistling racists. I am pointing out how they can appear untrustworthy.

I'm sorry but I still don't know which case studies you're referring to.

> It also doesn't change that intention and results may differ. Public school funding was fueled by paranoid xenophobic fear that immigrant Catholics would take over as covert servants of the Pope but it was a great influence. Similarly the initial "Five Pests Elimination" program was well intentioned but killing sparrows lead to major locust problems such that paying the "bird tax" in letting the locust eaters also eat some seeds was preferable to swarms devouring farm fields wholesale. (Refusing to change after it was revealed to cause problems made it the vast disaster but that is another topic.)

Yes, none of those points are themselves wrong but that also doesn't mean they directly apply here either. I mean we could quote proverbs all day and night and still be no closer to talking directly about the EU.

> The best way to prove sincerity is an expensive signal in itself - acting against your own immediate interests repeatably in the favor of integrity consistently when it comes up. That may benefit you long term.

You mean like fining their own businesses? Like I had already commented that they do?

It may feel like US businesses get singled out if all you read about is US businesses but the reality is that's not the case.

> For example: a serial con artist may be sincerely reformed and telling the truth about his new plan to fight acquifer depletion but people would rightly be skeptical. If he gave away the scheme with absolutely no monetization potential or benefits to special interests it would show it isn't a scam. It still might not work but not a scam.

I don't think it's worthwhile arguing about what are token gestures, bluffs and double-bluffs because if you're going down that proverbial rabbit hole then you could twist any action or statement to mean whatever you wanted it to mean. While I'm not suggesting that everything can be taken at face value, I do think a debate where we second guess every motive is going to be a hugely unproductive one. And ultimately if that's how you feel towards the EU then perhaps it's safer for us just to agree to disagree?


[flagged]


I've flagged your post because I don’t appreciate you misquoting me like that nor the racist slant you added at the end.

[flagged]


I think you're confused. US companies do a lot of bad stuff and our government is completely ineffectual at curtailing that "bad stuff."

What you're seeing is a reasonable response by an effectual government protecting its people. It's an odd sight to most Americans for sure, but maybe we could learn something from it.


"bad stuff" is not the exclusive purview of US companies, nor does this example qualify.

One accomplishment of theirs is convincing some naive Americans that selectively punishing US firms and chipping away at US influence and might is a "good thing".


> is not the exclusive purview of US companies,

It's not and no one said it was.

>some naive Americans that selectively punishing US firms and chipping away at US influence and might is a "good thing".

I'd like our government to do the same. Your opinion is needlessly nationalist without any real reason.


The euros' incentives are clear, what's our government's incentive to destroy some of our most innovative, successful, and market defining companies?

No. There's a tension between protecting consumers and supporting corporates. Europe tends to err more towards the former than the US does. That's just a cultural difference.

This is much less about some parochial anti-US sentiment and much more about calling Facebook out on behaviour that is seen as unacceptable according to European cultural norms. Perhaps also laws because I'd guess there's at least some question whether Facebook's behaviour is GDPR compliant.

Were it the case that no US organisations were questioning Facebook's behaviour then you would perhaps have a point. But it's not. Much of the anti-Facebook press is coming from US institions (NY Times, Washington Post, Bloomberg, ...). Several state & federal agencies are at various stages of inquiries.

So the idea that this is some move against US corporations doesn't really stand up to scrutiny.


Ah, the oft invoked "cultural difference" excuse for protectionism.

Those poor US companies, violating the laws of the countries in which they operate.

What I find interesting is that the same crowd spouting the "evil EU is trying to make poor US companies follow their laws" narrative was trying to spin Google's Chinese censorship project as "well obviously they have no choice but to comply with Chinese laws!".

Authoritarian capitalists sprinkled with a healthy amount of elitism. It's beautiful.

[flagged]


Please don't break the site guidelines regardless of how stupid a comment is.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


This is too little to late, we've already reached peak Facebook and the damage is done. These laws need to be broader than one company to be effective.



Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: